Lindy West in The Guardian on why she's decided to leave Twitter for the trolls. Eliot A. Cohen in The American Interest on telling the truth in the age of Trump. Alison McCook in Science with a bonkers story about an out of control disagreement ...

 

(in this message: 5 new items)

Saturday Stories: Trolls, Trump Truth, and One Strange Story

Lindy West in The Guardian on why she's decided to leave Twitter for the trolls.

Eliot A. Cohen in The American Interest on telling the truth in the age of Trump.

Alison McCook in Science with a bonkers story about an out of control disagreement at Harvard.

[And if you don't follow me on Twitter or Facebook, Amby Burfoot published a very kind piece on our office in The Washington Post (but one error in it - we do keep food diaries and track things like calories - but we don't impose artificially scoldy ceilings with them)]
 

Somehow This Video Seemed Appropriate To Today's Events

Though I'm not sure how funny the next few years are going to be.

Good luck to us all.

Have a great weekend!

 
 

Another RCT Where Revealing Genetic Risk Failed To Inspire Behaviour Change

The concept is clear - tell people what they're genetically at risk of developing and see them change their behaviours to encourage prevention as a consequence. It's a concept that in large part is fuelling the personalized medicine hype.

It's just that it doesn't seem to happen.

My friend Tim Caulfield has written about this extensively, including in this piece last year in The Atlantic, and now another study has come out to add to the pile of disappointments.

Published in PLoS in late November, the study looked at whether or not randomly assigning patients to receive genetic and phenotypic risk assessments regarding their potential future development of type 2 diabetes would change their behaviours as compared to those randomized to receive general advice.

What they found wasn't exciting. The addition of genetic testing information to lifestyle advice did nothing to increase physical activity, diet, weight, worry, or anxiety in the short term in those tested.

And while the researchers described the short duration of follow up as a weakness (it was 8 weeks), I think it might just as easily be describable as a strength in that one could argue that a person would be most likely to affect change while the iron of new information was hot, and that here, where no changes were observed immediately post risk provision, is more damning than would be demonstrating that changes dissipate with time.

From a clinical perspective, the other question that needs to be answered is whether or not the degree of change, if there were change, consequent to the inclusion of genetic testing to personalized, but not genetically informed, nutrition advice, would be superior? Putting this another way, if genetic testing affected change, would the changes it inspired be of greater clinical benefit than would healthy living advice provided by RDs and tailored, non-genetically, but certainly individually, to the person sitting in front of them?

And it would seem that's a fair thought given this quote by the founder and chief science officer of a company selling these sorts of nutrition related genetic tests who told the Wall Street Journal,
"For people who already eat a healthy diet, nutritional genetic testing might not be that useful"
All this to say, if you're keen for change, and if you have the money to spend on improving your health and diet, and unless you can afford both and that you also recognize these are very early days for nutritional genomics, save your blood and hire an RD to work with you on broader changes geared to help you find your way to a healthy diet.

(Disclosure: Though we could, our office doesn't offer nutritional genetic testing, but we do offer RD counselling)

[And if you're interested in another take on this industry, here's the piece Julia Belluz published about it yesterday]
 

School-Based Obesity Prevention Policies Don't Up Eating Disorder Risk

One of the worries surrounding school based teaching on obesity prevention is that doing so will lead exposed students to eating disorders and/or unhealthy weight control behaviours.

To date, there hasn't been much research one way or the other to either support or refute that concern, but a recent paper published ahead of print in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is reassuring.

The study examined whether the implementation of school obesity prevention policies between 2008-2010 in Minnesota public secondary schools had any impact on the prevalence of students' weight control behaviours through 2010.

Hearteningly, not only wasn't there an increase in unhealthy behaviours following the launch of school based teaching around obesity, but there may have been a decrease, with researchers describing that those schools that specifically included the topic of eating disorders in their health education curriculum showed an inverse association with school level prevalence of any extreme weight control behaviours.

Not teaching kids about health seems backwards to me, and it's nice to have data to support the safety of doing so. Without exception, care needs to be taken in terms of what and how these topics are taught, but given the rise and risks of chronic, non-communicable, diet-related, diseases in children, hamstringing kids by ignoring relevant teaching and discussion won't do them any favours, while this study suggests that teaching them might.

Looking forward to further research on this, and hopefully too, surveillance that includes whether or not these sorts of initiatives increase, decrease, or don't affect, weight-based in-school bullying.

[And just a correction from yesterday's post. Health Canada's new labeling law, when considering products with small serving sizes, would instead use a 50g reference for determination of a "high in sugar" label and hence Nutella will indeed be "high in sugar". Sorry for the error!]
 
 
 
   
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